INTIMATE JOURNAL by Nicole Brossard (Mercury), 141 pages, $17.95 paper. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Intimate Journal is not really a diary. Quebec poet Nicole Brossard has given us more of an anti-journal. It comes out of no particular place. In fact, it moves all over the world, from Victoria to Tokyo to Rome to Athens to Montreal. And it jumps back and forth through time, so it doesn't rely on the daily chronology that fuels most journals.
But with its short episodes attached at the end, which echo the diary's themes, it turns into a gorgeous, organically coherent and fully formed meditation on the nature of biography, self-reflection, anger, art, friendship and lesbian life.
This kind of work is only as interesting as the author. Even when the subject is fascinating - unless the author is dropping names or dishing out celebrity gossip - memoirs can be terribly dull precisely because they are too personal and the experiences so specific that it's difficult to connect to them.
But when a writer has Brossard's poetic instincts, who cares? This prose is so eloquent, so precise, you feel privileged to be allowed inside her head. I just wish the book were longer.
Give credit to the translator, Barbara Godard, who by capturing Brossard's French nuances sheds new light on one of the country's most gifted artists. But skip Godard's impenetrable 30-page intro - it reads like a satire of academic-speak.
Brossard launches Intimate Journal Wednesday (March 12) at the Rivoli. See Readings